Dayton, OH (Sports Network) – Jerai Grant scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Clemson made easy work of UAB, 70-52, in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at University of Dayton Arena.
The “First Four” game was between the last two at-large programs selected in the now 68-field tourney, but the affair was completely one-sided.
The Tigers won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1997 by making 52 percent from the field and forcing 19 turnovers to win going away and earn a No. 12 seed in the East Regional, where they will play fifth-seeded West Virginia on Thursday in Tampa.
Milton Jennings netted 11 points, while Tanner Smith and Devin Booker both added 10 for Clemson (22-11), which narrowly made the field after finishing tied for fourth in a mediocre Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It might have looked a little easy, but we really had to work defensively,” Smith said of the lopsided win. “We did a good job with the game plan … and we’re going to have to do it again soon.”
Jamarr Sanders led UAB with 19 points, as the Blazers (22-9) did little to silence critics of their tournament-worthy resume coming out of unheralded Conference USA.
The Tigers had lost their first game in the NCAA Tournament each of the previous three years, but it was evident early on that the fourth time was the charm.
-- See SB Nation's NCAA Basketball hub for more tournament coverage